What does copyright protect? In New Zealand, copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, sound recordings, films, communication works and the typographical arrangement of published editions.
How do you get copyright protection? Copyright comes into existence automatically under the Copyright Act 1994, when a work is put into material form e.g. manuscript, audio/video recording. No registration is necessary (or even possible), nor is any other formality required for securing copyright protection.
How long does copyright last? Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the author died.
Copyright in sound recordings and films continues for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which they were made. However, if the work is made available to the public before the end of that 50 year period, copyright continues for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was first made available.
Copyright in a communication work continues for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which it was first communicated to the public. Copyright in a repeated communication work expires at the same time as copyright in the initial communication work expires.
A publisher’s copyright in the typography of a published edition lasts for 25 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published.
What is intellectual property? Intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term used for human innovations and creativity that are capable of being protected under national law and international treaties. IP includes a diverse range of commercial assets from patents for new inventions through to copyright protected artworks. Use our general Guide to assist you in capturing your IP assets.
1. Automatic (copyright) protection In New Zealand copyright protection automatically exists from the date of creation to written texts (such as books, poems and plays) music, films, software, artistic works (drawing paintings, sculptures, and architectural designs. There is no formal registration requirement in New Zealand, but it is always worth making others aware of your rights where possible through a copyright notice followed by the creation date, for example: ‘Copyright John Hopata, May 2008.
2. Protection that requires your action The IPONZ website gives you information about how to register and protect your IP under these categories:
Class 41 Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities.
Some mistaken beliefs about IP rights
Doesn’t my business or trading name automatically give me protection? It’s a common mistake to think that forming a company or securing a domain name automatically gives you the exclusive right to use ‘your’ name for branding. The best way to get nationwide protection for a new brand/ trade mark is to formally register your trade mark and logo with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). For added protection from competitors or imitators trying to gain a free ride on your success, consider registering your company name as a trade mark as well as your brand name for a product or service (if this differs from your business name).
Don’t I own the rights to any intellectual property I create? With the exception of copyright protection which is automatic, you must register your rights to gain the benefit from legal protection. In some case you may need to register your rights in several categories. For example, design rights can help protect the outward appearance of a product you design, but not its function. Patent rights cover the function and purpose of a product.
Are the words in my logo protected? Registration of a trade mark gives rights to the mark as a whole. It does not give rights to any separate parts of the mark such as words or design elements independently. Before applying for a trade mark consider the following:
- A word mark for plain text characters protects the words regardless of the way they are presented.
- A device mark for words protected in special characters or a logo mark provides protection for the mark as it is presented.